Google Doodle on Thursday honoured Chinese-American artist and illustrator Tyrus Wong, creator of a classic 1942 Disney film 'Bambi' on his 108th birthday.
The artist’s contributions to Hollywood went largely unrecognized until 2001, when he was named a “Disney Legend.” Twelve years later, the Walt Disney Family Museum also staged a career retrospective “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky.”
Wong was man of many talents -- a painter, animator, calligrapher, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer, kite maker, set designer and storyboard artist.
He was the lead production illustrator on 'Bambi', for which he drew inspiration from Song dynasty classical Chinese paintings.
Born on October 25, 1910, in Wong Gen Yeo -- a village in southern China's Guangdong Province – he immigrated to US with his father at 1920.
“Today’s Doodle honors the life and legacy of Tyrus Wong (born Wong Gen Yeo) the Chinese-American artist responsible for some of the best-known images in American popular culture. Drawing inspiration from Chinese artists of the Song Dynasty, Wong applied his unique vision to paintings, prints, and even the Walt Disney film Bambi,” writes Google.
Although Wong’s father recognized his love of art from an early age, he could only afford for Wong to practice calligraphy using water and newspapers as well as study Chinese art at the Los Angeles Central Library. There, he was introduced to his favorite paintings, the spare landscape paintings of the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD). In junior high school, Wong earned a scholarship to the Otis Art institute, supporting himself as a waiter in Chinatown. He and fellow artists like Benji Okubo and Hideo Date formed the Oriental Artists’ Group of Los Angeles, organizing shows of their work. In 1932, Wong’s work was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago along with works by Picasso, Matisse, and Paul Klee.
In 1938, Wong was hired by Walt Disney Studios as an "inbetweener" intern (illustrators who create the sketches between key animator sketches, forming the movement of a character or object), drawing thousands of illustrations that were photographed to make animated films. His most notable work was on the Disney film Bambi, where he served as a lead illustrator, profoundly influencing the art of the beloved classic. Unfortunately, when Bambi hit theaters in 1942, Wong was only credited as one of many “background artists,” leading his major contributions to go unrecognized for years.
Wong went on to work for Warner Brothers, drawing and painting storyboards that shaped the look of other landmark Hollywood films like The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima, and Rebel Without A Cause—all of which earned Academy Award nominations.